Michael Kapp, second from the left, started at the firm POSDATA in 1996 and is currently responsible for marketing, product management, and the management of its software development and technical services groups. Parent company Control Solutions Inc., a supply chain management and mobility solutions company headquartered in Gig Harbor, recently completed the acquisition of Compsee Inc., a mobility systems company, from its parent company McRae Industries Inc. The move to acquire Compsee enhanced Control Solutions’ nationwide sales capabilities and increased the company from 81 employees to 96. The software development group is split between Gig Harbor and a technology center in Branchburg, N.J., and has technical services people located throughout the country.
Describe your enterprise.
Control Solutions is divided into two divisions: Within our Automatic Identification (Auto ID) division, now being combined with Compsee and to be called our Compsee division, we are a Supply Chain Management and Mobility systems integrator and software provider. This includes software applications such as Warehouse Management, Work-In-Process, Asset Tracking and Field Data Collection. These systems may include equipment such as handheld (mobile) terminals, bar code scanners, bar code printers and the associated supplies (ribbons and labels).
Within our POSDATA division, which has operations based in Louisville, Ky. and Los Angeles, we provide logistics and maintenance services and also provide electronic payment devices and related services.
Tell us about your recent merger.
The principals of Control Solutions and Compsee have known each other for many years. Approximately six months ago, Control Solutions signed Compsee as a reseller for its software applications in the Southeastern United States, which is Compsee’s geographic area of strength. The owners of both companies soon recognized the synergies and decided to pursue a deal.
Why is Control Solutions Inc. headquartered in Gig Harbor?
POSDATA was founded in Gig Harbor in 1973 to provide data processing services to local grocery stores. With the growth of scanning in supermarkets, it soon began reselling barcode scanners with its own add-on modules that allowed retailers to overcome the point of sale terminal vendor’s proprietary interfaces – thus allowing a retailer to mix and match point of sale equipment and barcode scanners from different vendors.
With the expansion of automatic identification technologies into other markets, such as manufacturing and warehousing, the company expanded its sales and product breadth to address markets outside of retail.  In 2007, POSDATA was acquired by Control Solutions, Inc. which retained the Gig Harbor offices as corporate headquarters for the combined company.  
Your Web site states that CSI designs factory automation, process control and automated data collection systems, and is a national value-added distributor and integrator of bar code labeling and identification badge printing systems, portable and radio frequency data collection and tracking solutions, and retail point of sale equipment. How does management handle all of these different components of the business?
We recognize that as companies grow, the advantages of scale can sometimes be offset by the difficulties of managing a larger and more complex business. We have addressed this by organizing Control Solutions into two divisions, which allow for managers to focus on their respective businesses. The parent organization, Control Solutions, provides support resources such as marketing, accounting, customer service, purchasing and IT services to both divisions. With regard to our software solutions, we focus our software development in selected vertical markets, so that we are not trying to be all things to all people. We will partner with third parties for software solutions that are outside our core expertise.
Why should potential clients choose your company over others?
First, we have nationwide sales and technical support capabilities which are very beneficial for larger customers who have operations across the country. Secondly, our scale allows us to offer very competitive pricing from the top equipment manufacturers in the industry, such as Motorola (handheld terminals), Zebra Technologies (barcode printers and label supplies) and Ingenico (electronic payment terminals). Finally, in several vertical markets, we offer a complete system solution featuring our own our best-in-class software which we can customize to a customer’s own operation.
What is a ballpark figure on annual sales and income?
We are a private company and do not provide financial information.  
What fields are most of the company’s employees engaged in?  
Our mix of employees is similar to other technology companies. This includes systems engineers, software developers and service technicians. In addition we have sales and customer service people in sales offices across the country. The Gig Harbor offices also have management and administrative personnel, such as accounting, HR, purchasing, and IT services.
How has the economy affected your business?
Our company and others within our industry have seen a reduction in business during the first quarter as customers have delayed capital spending plans. However, we continue to work on significant opportunities and expect to see a much more positive second half of 2009. Keep in mind that most of our products and systems incorporate barcode scanning and/or mobile technologies which help companies do more with less. So we feel our products are more likely than others to continue to be in demand throughout an economic downturn.
What have been the company’s biggest challenges?
Prior to the current downturn, our biggest challenges have been to continually find employees with the experience and skills that we need, given the rapid technology changes in the industry – this includes both sales and technical people. Lately, the biggest challenge has been to develop internal strategies to weather the current business downturn, so that we will emerge from the recession as a stronger company with increased market share.
What has been the company’s greatest success?
Over the past decade, through both organic growth and acquisition, we have developed a base of thousands of satisfied customers. This includes a wide range of customers, from large to small, but all have stayed with us due to our emphasis on exceptional customer service and support.   
What advice do you have for others who may want to work at a place like your firm?
Working at Control Solutions is exciting because of our work with some of the industry’s most advanced technologies, including the latest Windows Mobile-based handheld terminals featuring integrated barcode scanning and wireless communications. Our wireless communications work encompasses both Wireless Wide Area Networks (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint) as well as “inside the four walls”, wireless LAN (802.11 b/g) networks. To work at a company such as ours I would recommend developing skills and experience in these technologies, built on solid computer and networking skills obtained in a two or four year technical degree program.  
What else should South Sound businesses know about you and your company?
We have a long history in the Puget Sound area, with a large installed customer base here. We can provide businesses in the South Sound with all of our barcoding, inventory management, mobility and wireless solutions which can help them increase their ability to manage their business and improve productivity. Plus, we have local technical support based out of our Gig Harbor facility to ensure great service and support after the sale.